Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The unknowing optimist

My sadness is not for public consumption.

It is for the eyes of the backs of my closed blinds.
The hot downpour of my shower.
The note of the song that steals my breath.

For everyone else, my eyes will tremble under the effort of keeping that tear in.

It can be a little delicious to wallow in it when no one's looking. Like when you watch a tragic movie and the tears feel so good, so cleansing, you almost don't want them to stop.

But the second my sadness is witnessed? I panic.

When I was younger, it was like I couldn't have an emotion without a witness. I would wear black on my sad days, call my friends to sob, and still find the expression to write over indulgent poetry plum full of bad metaphors for what I saw as complicated sadness.

Sometimes you need to ricochet. 

So I have bounced in the opposite direction. I hold my sadness close, like a necklace cold against my chest beneath several layers of clothing.

But it still sneaks out sometimes (like, say, when overwhelmed by circumstantial bad luck). 
And if someone catches me, it is then that I start to pathologize my tears. 
Which, of course, in true cyclical fashion, makes them fall a little harder. 
I worry that my emotions will overwhelm people, that they think me petty, that I am deceiving the false image of competence I try to project.

I especially feel as though I have betrayed him. As though he fell for me with bare feet and a smile under the glowing July sun, and now I'm giving him gloomy Januaries. 
Like somehow these tears have broken a promise and proven me for a liar.

We sat in the bathtub last night for nearly two hours, pondering premonitions and camera angles for the movies of our life. As I dripped water from my fingers to the back of my hands, I told him how exhilarating it was when he told me it had lately occurred to him that he could only be happy with me because am I little saner than others, for this made me feel that becoming a little overwhelmed with life did not make me a failure in his eyes. I told him how funny it was that people actually found my writing uplifting. I recounted a comment that really hit a cord with me: "I like reading your blog because you bring an optimism to your life that is sadly lacking in my own and it gives me hope that one day I can feel the same way."* And how I thought that maybe I was more of an optimist than I give myself credit for in those moments of weakness.

He told me that I should use this bath as an opportunity for a shift. Before could be the days of shame over succumbing to those universal dips in life. After could be the realization that, most days, I do radiate and sparkle at least a little.

***
*Thank you, Rexy. This really touched me. I hope you can find an outlet as good as this one has been to me to help you find your way.

33 comments:

Jess said...

This is so sweet. And definitely an argument for sharing a bath more often.

And you are sparkly--absolutely.

lspoon said...

I know what you mean by wanting to hide your emotions. For the majority of my life whenever I cried it was deemed dramatic. That pissed me off, so now I bottle it all up.

Michelle said...

looking for the diamond in the rough is the best way to make a horrible day a little brighter :)

A Margarita said...

Not to be cheesy, but optimists make the world go round :)

I agree. There are very few people I can share my tears with. And, I'm an ugly cryer (sp? it looks wrong).

Deutlich said...

I wish I could keep my sadness plugged in and away from the mainstream. Except, I did such a fine job of it for so long that these days I'm just a blubbering idiot about it all.

Optimism is totally underrated, though. While it may not seem like it right now, that's certainly a trait of mine and I got a LOT of flack from some folks for it because I kept living in a "dream world."

Whatevs. Optimism rules.

distractedspunk said...

You know you're a beautiful person, inside and out right? And I feel so privileged to have been able to read your words today. Thank you for that.

(Also, I understand where you're at. I've been there. It's amazing how people can find us awesome when we don't think ourselves that way.)

ana said...

You are a wonderful writer, and sparkly definitely.

I understand the whole 'bottle it up' approach. I keep my sadness locked within too, and it is always beating in my chest like a sour steel pendulum pulling down my heart. And I it escape in the shower, with the water running down my face.

And associations like these help....

pink jellybaby said...

I can relate to this post totally. I've spent so much time trying to hold it all in, that i'm scared that if i let a little bit out, i'll never be able to get the lid back on.

Surfergrrl said...

wow P, not sure what to make of that one. You need to translate that one for me in an email. :) But I think all and all, you should always be yourself and expressing yourself with what is true to your nature. Perhaps this blog is a way to sort it through first before you express things more in an outwardly way. Did that make ANY sense? haha!

Hope said...

This was so beautifully written. That is all. :)

Yoda said...

I will say cheers to more optimists around me! I'm one of them :-)

Mama Zen said...

What a marvelous, marvelous new beginning!

Damsel in Digress said...

i think i'm in that same phase right now - where i'm trying to hold it together but the littlest thing (the right song, a picture of a kitten, march of the PENGUINS) can start a flood of tears. because it is a release. and it feels oh so good. oh the januaries [love this term =).]

i'm addicted to your writing. and that comment that rexy left rings true... there is always a certain hopefulness in your writing that i just love as well. and maybe that's what makes you sparkle even more. you're unaware of your own sparkleness and it's truly so genuine.

Crashdummie said...

"The note of the song that steals my breath"

that was probably one of the things that touched me the most.

i can totally relate to how you are feeling - somehow showing sadness has become a taboo, mostly cuz ppl see me as a bubbly, happy, optimistic person. What most persons do not realize that to be is that if i can feel so much joy, the pain is just as overwhelming...

we have a saying that the best way to hide your tears is to smile...

but my advise to you would be never to keep your emotions bottled up, cuz sooner or later they will catch up on you.

just remember, whether you realize it or not, you touch people with your words, and you most certainly are an inspiration.

lots of hugz

PrincessPolly said...

I'm a pretty emotional person but I hate that people know when I'm upset, that I'm such an easy tear-dropper. I'm practically crying reading this (I blame the alcohol).

eric1313 said...

We are concordant souls, my friend. From sleeping in our daytime t-shirts, to this bit of private, morose reverie.

When the nighttime of emotions falls onto me, I wear my own gloom like a cloying shawl of darkness that drapes a wind-smothered candle, waiting patiently to be re-lit by a hand with the magic and the will to do so.

You have such a hand in your life, and it is the greatest of treasures.

I have such only in my dreams and visions of poetry, though I do not discount the healing I feel from reading about friends, even those whose faces I've not known closely.

I have to get going down to the D, but I'm glad I took one peek over at this page.

Your writing gives me eruptions poetic phrase, both in its technique and obvious ability, as well as its tender content and visions of the universal. And of course, the emotional appeal of your feelings is not last on that list, though it may appear so in this bit of text.

Take care and keep writing like a font of beautiful pictures flowing like sublime, stellar clockwork. You are exactly the kind of "godess-like, strong women" that I have been lucky enough to know and write about, to quote something you yourself said back in October on my page. What you say has a way with sticking with me, as well.

Peace and love, my friend.

Sheila said...

I hate crying in front of others. It's a deep seeded need to feel that not only I am in control of my feelings, but to never let anyone else see how bad I am hurting.

To find someone who can accept that we are human and therefore - not perfect is a blessing indeed.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

This was a really beautifully written post, you painted a really great picture

Beth said...

You do display a wonderful spirit, a love of life and great optimism on your blog.

Who? Me? said...

I think we read each other's blog to feel that we're not alone. You write things that I can totally relate to and it helps me realize that I'm normal. Thanks :)

ttcmb said...

This post is beautiful. Sometimes our partners remind us of who we are when we feel like we may have been sidetracked.

captain corky said...

I once took some mushrooms, sat on the edge of a bed, and cried for two hours. It felt so good. I guess I needed it at the time.

Miriam D said...

Your thoughts about emotions? How they react to the circumstance you are in, different in public than in private? And how you are afraid to disappoint your boy because, well, you HAVE emotions that get out of hand? That really spoke to me, I'm exactly the same way, and have had the same exact thoughts. Though I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this point... your posts always hit home with me.

By the way, he is so sweet for saying those things in the bath.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

"My sadness is not for public consumption."

That really stuck out for me...what a great opening line.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Although this clearly isn't the point of your post, I now have the urge for a bath.

Showers are so...functional

r.xo said...

This entry radiates and sparkles! I'm sure you do, too. I love baptismal baths that shift life and offer insight. I came here by way of chelseatalkssmack. Greetings :)

libby said...

pp - so poignantly written. i have trouble keeping the sadness in sometimes. my emotions are all over my face. i can only hope to be as strong as you are some years from now.

The Duke said...

What happened to the fucking blues man? It's a bit weary with the "back on your bike sunshine" and latte follow-ups. Saddness is productive, but saddness is more than productive. But who has the courage to frown these days without being a egoist or an emoist? When laughter subsumes tears I think the honesty of both escape us.

P.S. I said "a lot saner".

P.P.S I always thought baths mad better thresholds than doorways. And I am talking in the past tense, for this is the future :)

Ant said...

I think I'm actually a happy pessimist: I prepare for the worst, and believe the worst about most people, but am happy in spite of this.

I hardly ever cry and would usually end up sermonising at this point about how people shouldn't be sad etc etc. However, you don't need that sermon right now - I like that man's thinking, and agree with his view of thinking of the bath as a... watershed moment (oh I kill myself).

brookem said...

I loved this. You're such an eloquent, articulate, passionate writer.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

You bath together, interesting.
I remember once I came out of a relationship where we had ALWAYs showered together and we ued to wash eachother. We even used to shampoo eachother.

When it ended, I felt strange showering alone.

Saner than others. Interesting that. Do you know what, that actually set off a whole train of thought in my head, not entirely new.

Well, you have inspied a future post at some point next week :)

mcgee said...

this was beautiful. it seems january is THE month for the blues. i'm with you.

Maithri said...

You sparkle

like flecks of yellow sunlight warming the tired seas...

I love the way you write...

It is truly powerful and reflects not only a mind which can delve deeply into the heart of things..

but a feeling heart...

This combination of sensitivity and mental acuity... is truly rare...

I have a deep sense that you have the ability to change things simply by your 'talking' about them...

It is the gift that others long for,

Use it well my friend,

My love to you, Maithri